SOCIAL INTERACTION AND SOCIAL
HOW CAN I HELP?
In order to make it easier for a child with autism to understand what we
want him to know, we should try to adapt the way we communicate.
HERE ARE SOME WAYS THAT MAY HELP:
- Say your child’s name to focus attention. Many children with autism may not realise that they are being spoken to directly, especially if there are others in the room.
- Keep instructions or requests short and simple. Long questions, detailed explanations, complicated instructions can cause confusion.
- Reduce your words. ‘John, sit down,’ will be simpler to understand than ‘John, be a good boy and go and sit down over there, please.’
- Check for understanding. Although your child may seem to havebeen listening, don’t assume that he has understood what you said. Always check.
- Allow thinking time. Don’t rephrase what you just said. Children with autism often need more time to process and understand what you are saying. If you then try to say it in a completely different way, this will make things even more confusing for them as it will seem like a whole new instruction.
- Try and use facts to explain things. If you are trying to explain why a child needs to eat their dinner, we might say it is like putting fuel in a car, and if the car doesn’t have enough fuel it will break down. Children who have autism would find it hard to understand this sort of explanation as it is not logical for the child with autism to link with the original idea.
- Do not rely on your tone of voice or facial expression to convey a message. A child with autism may not be able to understand these subtle ways of communicating. So if your child’s hair looks messy, say it looks messy, rather than saying it looks lovely while making a funny face!
- Do not force your child to make eye contact. Children with autism can be very uncomfortable if made to look into a person’s eyes or find it hard to look and listen at the same time. A child with autism may not appear to be listening or understanding what is being said to them, but this assumption may be wrong.
- Many children with autism respond to visual prompts. These may be pictures, photographs, drawings or writing.